Tag Archives: Christmas

Panettone Muffins

Versão em português

Muffins de Panetone

One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!

The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!

Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!

For 12 muffins, you’ll need:

1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins

Muffins de Panetone

Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.

Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.

Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!

Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.

Muffins de Panetone

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.

Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.

Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.

Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂

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Spiced Chocolate Shortbread

Versão em português

Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias

Here at Culinary Tertulias, December is a synonym for edible gifts!

To start this series, I wanted to make something with chocolate and spices, Christmas-y but not overly so. I also wanted a quick and easy cookie, because I had to take SOMETHING to a meeting with friends. I found this recipe at King Arthur’s Flour and I immediately knew it was the one to make – I love shortbreads and I had all the ingredients!

I used two things that may be a bit tricky to find outside the US: allspice and pumpkin pie spice. To make this recipe, you will need one teaspoon of spices – you can use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

You will need:

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp mixed spices – I used ½ tsp allspice and ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, but you can also use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 3/4 cup (200 g) all-purpose flour

 
Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias
 

Start by lining 2 8-inch square pans with aluminum foil, leaving some excess to help you remove the shortbreads, and grease them well. Pre-heat your oven.

This is a recipe that is stirred by hand, which sounds hard – it’s actually pretty quick and easy, if the butter is properly softened!

With a spatula, mix the butter, salt, and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, spices, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the flour and mix just until you can’t see any more white specks.

Divide the dough into both pans – use the spatula to smooth the surface and prick it all over with a fork. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Use the excess aluminum foil as handles to remove the shortbread from the pans and immediately cut the shortbreads into squares. Cool them on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, place in a cute box or bag and spread the cheer! 🙂

Phoebe’s Cookies – OK, Nestlé Toll House Cookies

Versão em Português

Cookies da Phoebe

(If you don’t know why I call these “Phoebe’s Cookies,” stop reading this and go watch Friends, season 7, episode 3)

There’s no better way of finishing the Christmas Tertulias than with Phoebe’s grandma’s cookies! 🙂 I had wanted to try these ever since I first watched that episode, in 2000 something. When I moved to Uruguay, I finally looked up the recipe and tried it. In fact, I’ve made these cookies so many times that I had to search the blog files to make sure I hadn’t posted them yet! 😀

And the most important thing is: you can still make them for Christmas! Did you forget to buy stocking stuffers? Phoebe’s Cookies to the rescue! Your children need to leave some cookies for Santa? He’ll like these better than any store-bought cookie! 🙂

I wanted to follow the original recipe strictly, for the pictures, but I ended up making a tiny alteration: I swapped ½ cup of walnuts for ½ cup of chocolate chips, because I had chopped more nuts than necessary. 😀

You’ll need:

200 g butter, room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups chocolate chips – If you can’t find real chocolate chips (aka not the gross hydrogenated fat, ewww), just chop some normal chocolate bars! I used 1 ½ cups of mini chocolate chips, 50% cocoa.

1 cup of walnuts, chopped (measure, then chop) – as I said before, I used 1 ½ cup.

Cookies da Phoebe

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar for approximately 3 minutes, until it’s creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing a little more.

In a bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the stand mixer in thirds. The original recipe said to continue using the stand mixer to incorporate the flour mix, but I prefer to do this step using a silicon spatula, to make sure I don’t overwork the dough. It takes a little muscle strength, but I think it’s worth it! 😀

When you can’t see flecks of flour in your dough anymore, it’s time to add the chocolate chips and the nuts. Use a silicon spatula to mix it well.

As I still don’t have a cookie scoop, I had to shape them by hand. My suggestion: sit in front of the TV/computer, put on an episode of your favorite show, and shape! It will take a while. 😀 The original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of dough per cookie, but I thought they turned out too big, so I only used ½ Tbsp per cookie.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, leaving approximately 2 cm of room between them. Bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheet and let them cool on a rack. When they are COMPLETELY cooled (it may take a while if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere!), place them in a nice box or jar and they’re ready to be gifted! 🙂

Tip: If you’re using the same baking sheet to bake multiple batches, cool it before adding the second batch, so that the cookies won’t spread too much in the oven. I usually remove the baked cookies (and the parchment paper, obviously) and place the sheet under running tap water for a few seconds, until it’s cool enough for me to touch it with my bare hands. Then, I dry it with a cloth and it’s ready for the second batch!

Freezer: If you don’t want to bake the entire batch on the same day, flash freeze the dough balls on a tray. When they are completely frozen, transfer them to a ziploc bag – they’ll last up to three months in the freezer. To bake, place the frozen balls on the prepared baking sheet and bake for a few extra minutes! It’s that easy! 🙂

Lemon Bars

Versão em Português

Barrinhas de Limão

The second recipe of the Christmas Tertulias is not exactly a Christmas recipe, but it is a perfect fit for the hot weather in the Southern Hemisphere. As the idea of this series is to make edible gifts, all you have to do is place these bars in a red-and-green box and there you have it: CHRISTMAS 😀 😀

They are also a great dessert for Christmas Dinner. We know your aunt is bringing
pudim (Brazilian-style flan), but you can innovate and bring these! 🙂
Lemon bars are also one of Sky’s favorite desserts: I first baked them because every time I baked something, he’d say “oh, this is pretty good, but you could make lemon bars, you know…” I’m glad he insisted, though, because these are really good! I’ve tried many recipes, but this one, by Ree Drummond, is one of the most traditional.

To fill a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 11 inch) pan with lemon bars <3, you’ll need:

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract – “an invention from my head,” as Grandma would say

225 g butter, cold and chopped into small cubes

Filling

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs

Zest and juice of 5 lemons

Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration

Barrinhas de Limão

Start by lining the baking pan (20 x 30 cm, 8 x 11 inch) with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that removing the bars from the pan isn’t a traumatizing process 😀 – there’s no need to butter the foil, as there’s plenty of butter in the dough!

For the crust: in a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and the vanilla and use the tip of your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix the ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs. Press this dough onto your baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the sides are light golden. Don’t bake any more than that, as these will go back to the oven! 🙂

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Use your whisk to mix the sugar and flour. Add the eggs, mixing well, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Mix and set aside. As this whole process takes about 3 minutes, do the dishes! 😀

Remove the crust from the oven, carefully pour the filling, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool it for a while before placing in the fridge for about 2 hours – it’s a lot easier to cut them when they’re cold!

Remove the chilled bars from the pan, using the aluminum foil. For extra prettiness, sift a generous layer of confectioner’s sugar over the bars. Cut them into 5-cm (2-inch) squares. Place the bars in a cute box (if you have to pile them, separate the layers with wax paper), and there’s your gift!

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Versão em Português

To begin our Christmas Tertulias, also known as edible gifts, I decided to cook a recipe I’ve always been curious about. We don’t eat fudge in Brazil, but when I was a child a lot of books mentioned that somebody had made it for Christmas and, of course, Honeydukes sold Fudge Flies! (#Potterhead)

I’ve read several fudge recipes: some are more complicated, requiring a candy thermometer and a lot of patience, and some are more straightforward. Obviously, I chose the easiest one I could find, by Patricia Scarpin! While I was writing this post, I realized I had (involuntarily) adapted the recipe – I had read it wrong and only used ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk, instead of ½ can! 😀

This is a GREAT gift – it’s different (well, if you’re from Brazil), it will stay firm unrefrigerated, it’s delicious and… it’s so easy to make! A lot less stressful than trying to go to a shopping mall this late in the season!

To make the (adapted) fudge, you’ll need:

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk – do NOT swap for evaporated milk!

330 g of a good dark chocolate, chopped – as the recipe is basically chocolate, the quality matters quite a lot. I used a 64% cocoa chocolate.

1 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract – you’ll see that the picture looks like a lot more, and that’s right: my homemade extract wasn’t quite full-strength yet, so I added some.

Chopped walnuts, to taste − completely optional. You can use walnuts, hazelnuts… or nothing at all.

Fudge de Chocolate

Start by lining a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that it is easy to remove the fudge from the pan.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks – as mine came in discs, I didn’t bother chopping. In a heavy-bottomed pan, place the chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk, and the water. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.

When the chocolate is melted, you’ll notice that the fudge is in a thicker consistency. Turn off the stove and add the vanilla. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Spread the chopped nuts over the fudge, pressing lightly so that they stick – I once forgot to press and the nuts fell off as the fudge cooled #fail. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Use the foil handles to remove the fudge and cut it into 2.5-cm (1 inch) cubes. In theory, they last approximately 1 week in the fridge. Here, they lasted about three hours…. #self-control 😀